Sexual Health Behaviors and Knowledge Among Ugandan Adolescent Girls: Implications for Advancing Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Technology

William Byansi, Tyriesa Howard Howell, Lindsey M. Filiatreau, Proscovia Nabunya, Nina Kaiser, Erin Kasson, Fred M. Ssewamala, Patricia Cavazos-Rehg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Adolescent girls in Uganda have four-fold HIV infections than adolescent boys. Several barriers to accessing comprehensive sexual health education exist for adolescent girls in Uganda, including unequal, social, and economic statuses, limited access to education and health care services, discrimination, and violence. Objective: This study qualitatively examines sexual health behaviors and literacy among Ugandan adolescent girls and explores how technology may be leveraged to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes in this population. Methods: Four focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted among 32 adolescent girls aged 14–17 years enrolled in Suubi mHealth. Participants were randomly selected from four secondary schools participating in a randomized clinical trial known as Suubi4Her (N = 1260). FGDs were conducted in the local language, audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and translated. Translated transcripts were imported into Dedoose for data management and coding. Emerging themes included Influences for Sex/Relationships, HIV Knowledge, and Sources of Sexual Health Information. Results: Participants reported common influences for sexual engagement included seeking resource security, limited parental communication, and peer influences. Participants also demonstrated knowledge gaps, requesting information such as how to prevent unplanned pregnancies and HIV, endorsing sexual health myths, and describing limitations to accessing sexual health information. Conclusions: Noticeable inconsistencies and limited access to information and resources regarding basic sexual health knowledge were reported, which inevitably increases adolescent girls’ risks for adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes. Developing culturally appropriate interventions may help advance the sexual and reproductive health needs of Ugandan adolescent girls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1227-1247
Number of pages21
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Adolescents
  • Females
  • HIV
  • Parental communication
  • Sexual health
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Uganda


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